Assistant Coach and Team Manager
In September, 2002, the U.S. Men's Cerebral Palsy Soccer Team travelled to Santiago, Chile, to compete in the Pan American Soccer Championships. They faced off against countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Columbia who have long been considered some of the strongest countries in the world in non-disabled soccer. The winner of this tournament earned a qualifying spot to the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games. Earlier this year the team attended an Invitational Tournament in Kerkrade, Netherlands, where they defeated England in sudden death overtime to come out as Tournament Champions. This win made the U.S. Team look at making a comeback after failing to qualify for the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games when the U.S. lost a three-way tie breaker with Argentina and Brazil at the 1999 Pan American Championships.
There are a few straight-forward but significant differences between the rules governing non-disabled soccer and those used for Paralympic and CP-ISRA competition. CP soccer is played on a smaller field (maximum size 55 x 70 yards), as compared with non-disabled soccer (maximum size 80 x 120 yards). The size of the goal for CP soccer is smaller, as well. In CP soccer the sides of seven play 30-minute halves, while non-disabled soccer is played with sides of 11 and 45 minute halves. CP soccer teams are required to have at least one CP class 5 or 6 player on the field and can have no more than three class 8 players. CP soccer is played with no offsides, and players may use a single arm or double arm throw-in when putting an out of bounds ball back in play.
CP soccer is considered to be more of a finesse and possession game, as opposed to the power and speed often seen in men's non-disabled soccer. According to assistant coach Jim Grier, the game flow and style have many similarities to women's soccer. Because of this, the U.S. team regularly plays matches against college level women's teams to prepare for international competition.
Most tournaments are scheduled during the Spring or Fall. Players are brought together for training camps a few times per year. During a training camp, two training sessions per day and one meeting session are conducted. Depending on goals for the camp, a training session may focus on individual ball handling skills or team tactics and strategy. Sometimes a game is scheduled for the second training session to allow players to put skills they are learning to work in real game situations. Meeting sessions are used to discuss game plans and strategy.
Training sessions dedicated to individual skills begin with a warm-up period. Players are then introduced to the skill with drills that focus on skill repetition and …